HO sodding ho, and so we head towards our 13th electoral test in Scotland in the last 10 years.

That is a lot of voting and no mistake. It is hard to think of a less edifying time of year to go to the polls to choose the next UK Parliament and Government than just under a fortnight before Christmas.

In my family this is normally around the day we stick the Christmas tree up. It is a time of year when too many people get frazzled and over-wrought in putting too much effort and resource into preparations for the big day.

It is a time when work Christmas parties dull too many senses and judgement and leave some people waking up wishing their choices the day and night before had been different ones.

I think we are all sensing that the metaphors, photo-calls and humour are going to extend to an eye-watering and patience eviscerating level of cringe. This, dear friends, is not going to be pretty to watch.

At the same time the trust and respect for the main actors has never been worse. Normally Westminster elections boil down to a question of which of two individuals the country will select to be holder of the keys to 10 Downing Street.

And yet the level of distrust and contempt for the leaders of the two largest UK parties is at palpable.

This is not going to be an election fought around the simple equation of whom we trust to govern the UK for the next five years. Because the answer to that is “none of them” on offer at that level.

While polls suggest that the Conservatives have the chance to push their position towards a majority on the back of Brexiteer votes in England this is by no means certain. The lesson of recent history is that voters can change their mind rapidly – that is what happened to Theresa May and she was disliked much less aggressively than Boris Johnson.

Moreover, the “choose rapid self-destruction” party led by Nigel Farage could split the self-destruction vote across England and – oh the irony – risk scuppering the chances of Brexit altogether.

It is difficult to remember a less attractive set of prospects at any point in my lifetime and possibly over the course of the UK’s entire time as a democracy with universal suffrage.

A Tory government would be extremist, damaging and debasing to the country’s economic self-interest, relationships across Europe and standing in the world. This is not a particularly partisan point, if you don’t believe me look carefully at the Conservative party literature popping through your doors across Scotland over the coming weeks.

If you can find pictures of Boris Johnson and his top team making the case for what they would like to do with power then you will deserve a prize. Where’s Wally might be a fun thing to play with the kids over holiday season. Playing where’s the wally Boris and his team may be the only thing worth lifting the Tory leaflets for. They will barely be visible, if at all.

They should be offering a cash prize that might go some way to recompensing the £1100 per person that the National Institute of Economic and Social Research suggests will be the annual cost to all of us individually from the latest Tory Brexit deal.

All you will actually see or hear from the Tories in Scotland is that they are not the SNP and that no matter how extremist and wild the ride is as part of the good Britannic SS Titanic, it is always better than enjoying the same status as every other independent country in the world or indeed Europe.

Worse than that, they won’t even make the positive case for the Union – they will just be arguing that even to have the opportunity to choose which future path to take is a crazy idea. Better to stick with the crazies in charge than to even think about making your own way in the world.

The Scottish Tories once stood for self-reliance, responsibility, confidence and respect – not any more. Not for a long time.

But having said that. What is undoubtedly true in Scotland is that this election is a two-horse contest between the SNP and the Conservatives. The Labour Party are not at the races and even if they were it doesn’t strike me that they particularly want to win.

The Liberals will be out to try and win over Tory voters in the handful of Scottish seats they hold or might win back. Elsewhere they will be largely happy to hold onto their election deposits.

The challenge for the SNP is to get the strategic message right not just for this immediate context but for the months and years to come.

Scotland’s voice needs to be heard and its right to speak needs to be respected. The pursuit of Scotland’s democratic and economic self-interest is no longer compatible with the governing system of the UK.

The job of the SNP in this contest is to redouble its efforts to be the unifying National party of Scotland. It must seek to emerge representing the vast majority of seats across the varied communities of Scotland.

To achieve this it must convince people that not only is it best placed to stand up for Scotland at Westminster, but also that the purpose of this election is about much more than handing someone the keys to Downing Street and holding them to account for five years.

The purpose of this election has to be about making a choice that draws our collective heads above the shabby, torrid, hollering noise of the pathetic political fight of the moment.

This will mean making a comprehensive case for “why independence” and an immediate path to rejoining the European Union is in our collective long-term interests. It will mean being honest and candid about the implications of the transition path to getting there no matter the choices the extremists in charge at Westminster select for what Brexit Britain will look like in the years to come.

I believe it will be in articulating a dramatically different tone and approach to the one we are all being force-fed every day from London.

The SNP has to unify the independence case and cause and then unify the country behind it. The argument is there to be won and a big majority is waiting to be persuaded. But they won’t double down on Brexiteer populism, extremism and dishonesty.

This Christmas election will test the patience of most reasonable people for politics and politicians. It is going to take a special and inspiring case to lift our collective spirits for all the positive possibilities we enjoy. Are we up for that?